Sunflower crops in the Black Sea region will increase by at least 7% due to higher yield estimates in Ukraine, Russia, Romania, and Bulgaria, while Turkey is expected to see a reduced crop, in line with market expectations.
According to the US Department of Agriculture’s August World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (Wasde), the 2023-24 sunflower harvest in Ukraine, Russia, and Moldova will be 33.3 million tonnes, which is 7.6% higher than a year earlier.
In Bulgaria and Romania, the main sunflower producers in the EU, the increase in sunflower crops will be almost 14% taking it to 4.8 million tonnes and in Moldova about 680,000-750,000 tonnes, according to the latest estimates of the European Commission.
Estimates of the sunflower harvest in Ukraine differ significantly between official and market sources.
According to the August estimates of the Ministry of Agricultural Policy, the sunflower crop is expected to decline by 879,000 to 12 million tonnes.
Analytical agencies estimate the sunflower harvest in the range of 13.2-13.7 million tonnes, meanwhile.
The increased estimates are based on an average 6% increase in planted area to 5.7 million hectares and an average yield increase of 2.3-2.43 tonnes per hectare.
At the same time, the estimates of companies active in the sunflower market vary considerably, by as much as 2 to 4 million tonnes.
The average estimate of analysts at Ukrainian companies is 12-14 million tonnes, while the estimate of the sown area does not exceed 5.5 million hectares.
The highest market estimate for the 2023 sunflower harvest is 14 million tonnes, and the lowest is 9-10 million tonnes.
The main reason for this is the difference in estimates of sown areas, as well as the weather, according to market participants.
The highest yield estimates are based on favorable weather conditions during the sunflower ripening period and an expected increase in yield and planted area.
As for prices for the new sunflower crop, they are in the range of UAH15,000-15,000 per tonne ($405-410 per tonne) including VAT CPT crushing plant, which is in line with prices for the old crop.
Despite the fact that Russian analytical agencies and official data suggest a decrease in sunflower acreage, the sunflower crop is expected to be almost 2% above the 2022 level of 16.4-16.6 million tonnes.
The biggest sunflower harvest estimates for the new 2023/24 season are shown by the USDA at 17.5 million tonnes, which is more than 7% higher than last year.
Prices for the new crop are so far lacking, as high stocks have led to a focus on shifting the old crop first.
Turkey expects a decline in this year’s crop due to a decrease in planted area in favor of wider wheat planting, according to some sources, as well as due to a reduction in yields, according to other sources.
In addition, according to some sources based in Turkey, heat damage to the crop is likely to affect the final gross harvest.
Sunflower harvest estimates are 21% lower than last year at 1.5 million tonnes, according to market estimates.
The USDA expects Turkey’s sunflower harvest to be 1.65 million tonnes, down 13% from last year.
The sunflower harvest in Turkey started about two weeks ago, according to market data.
New crop sunflower prices are strengthening as the harvest progresses, driven by an expected decline in the overall crop.
“When the harvesting started the local sunflower seed price was around TRY10,500 per tonne, now it has become TRY13,500-14,000 per tonne or around $535 per tonne,” a source based in Turkey told Fastmarkets Agriculture.
“Prices for small batches of sunflower reached TRY15,000 per tonne or $555 per tonne this week with delivery to the plant,” another source based in Turkey, said.
According to the European Commission, the total sunflower harvest in Romania and Bulgaria will be close to 4.8 million tonnes, which is almost 14% higher than last year.
At the same time, the European Commission has reduced its estimate of sunflower acreage in Bulgaria by almost 8% to 846,000 ha, while maintaining an expected yield of 2 tonnes per hectare.
Market sources suggest that sunflower cultivation areas in Bulgaria reported by the European Commission are underestimated by some 950,000 hectares.
The estimated increase in sown area was due to a lower corn acreage.
According to some sources based in Bulgaria, the total sunflower harvest will be 4.5 million tonnes, of which 1.8 million tonnes will come from Bulgaria and about 2.7 million tonnes from Romania, as dry weather affects crops.
In addition, sunflower harvesting in Bulgaria has already started, with prices for the new crop being almost on par with the old crop.
“Old and new crops are already at the same price – within $425-430 per tonne with delivery to the crush plant,” a Bulgarian broker told us.
Romanian crushers are currently priced at $415-420 per tonne with delivery to the crushing plant.
“Sunflower harvesting started about a week ago in the southern regions,” a source based in Bulgaria said.
“Some northern regions started harvesting this week.”
According to the USDA’s August estimates, global sunflower production will increase in the 2023-24 season by 6.5% to 55.8 million tonnes.